|For it is so written in|
“”Had it been in the Old Testament Harry Potter would have been put to death.
|—Becky Fischer, Jesus Camp|
The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (the source for the Christian Old Testament), which forms the core texts of the Halakha, or corpus of Jewish divine law, include a surprising number of crimes which merit the death penalty as punishment. These laws were believed to form an integral part of the overall "Covenant" between the Israelites and YHWH. When the Christians adopted the Old Testament as their canon, neither they as a body, or Jesus as the Messiah revised or redacted any of these laws, for all they edited the Hebrew texts.
Crimes that merit the death penalty are generally crimes against God. A smaller, but no less important set of capital crimes are sexual transgressions. It should be noted that things we consider crimes (like rape and child abuse) are not what the Old Testament is talking about. Sexual transgressions typically relate to a failure to comport oneself (sexually) in a manner that adds to the community. Adultery and masturbation are as bad or worse than modern crimes of molestation or rape - simply because they challenged such moral issues as "Who of my children is really mine, so gets my land", and "The more sons I have the more land I can work, so the more money I own." Taken by the word of God alone, however, one just has to assume that God cares if you touch yourself or find someone sexy before you are married. Though exactly why God should have such a deep and abiding interest in the sexual and marital predications of his creations is not clear. The religious laws describe the various rituals and taboos involved in the proper way of worshipping the Israelite God, and also seek to prevent apostasy. At least in this case, the reasoning behind assassinating anybody who stepped out of line is clear.
The rules in the Torah still form a part of the body of the Jewish law, though they fortunately cannot be considered a complete description of Jewish law. This is because no legal system can be fully understood without also considering the way its rules are being interpreted and applied in practice by the courts and other institutions of its society - or, for that matter, the body of rituals and social conventions surrounding such institutions. For example, a Jewish court could not say that it was acceptable to sell your daughter into slavery, even if that is the alternative to killing her for a misdeed. Today, only a few isolated Islamic courts have ever actually applied the death penalties for apostasy and sexual crimes in the modern era, despite the fact that many honor killings occur claiming to be legally sanctioned.
 Sexual activities
- Adultery (Leviticus 20:10-12, man and woman)
- Lying about virginity. Applies to girls who are still in their fathers' homes, who lie about their virginity, and are presented to their husband as a virgin. The accused is guilty until proved innocent. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)
- The daughter of a priest practicing prostitution (death by fire) (Leviticus 21:9)
- Rape of a virgin who is engaged. If she is not engaged you only have to marry her and give her father 50 shekels. No mention is made of the girl’s opinion, and no punishment is specified for raping a single non-virgin female. (Deuteronomy 22:25)
- Being the victim of rape, if one is an engaged female virgin and the rape occurs in a city. If it takes place in a field, the victim is spared because nobody would have heard her screams. (Deuteronomy 22:23-27) Presumably, virgins who scream for help inside a city will always be rescued.
- Men practicing bestiality. (Both man and animal die). (Leviticus 20:15) 
- Women practicing bestiality (Both woman and animal die). (Leviticus 20:16) 
- Having sex with your father’s wife, as distinct from "your mother", as it was common practice for men at the time to have several wives. (both die) (Leviticus 20:20)
- Having sex with your daughter-in-law. (Leviticus 20:30)
- Incest. (Leviticus 20:17) 
- (for men): Sex with a man in the same manner as sex with women. Generally interpreted as male homosexuality. The girls seem to get a free... errrr ...ride on this one. (Leviticus 18:22)
- Marrying a woman and her daughter. They are all burnt to death (Leviticus 20:14)
A couple of these demand that the "sinners" be burned to death rather than stoned — which was the more usual form of capital punishment. One can wonder why these crimes in particular merit this especially horrible fate.
 Religious laws
- Worshiping idols (Exodus 22:20, Leviticus 20:1-5, Deuteronomy 17:2-7).
- Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:14-16,23).
- Breaking the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14, Numbers 15:32-36).
- Practicing magic (Exodus 22:18).
- Being a medium or spiritualist. (Stoning) (Leviticus 20:27).
- Trying to convert people to another religion. (stoning) (Deuteronomy 13:1-11, Deuteronomy 18:20).
- Apostasy - If most people in a town come to believe in a different god. (Kill everybody, including animals, and burn the town.) (Deuteronomy 13:12-15)
- Giving one of your descendants to Molech. Probably refers to human sacrifice, which is not now as commonly practised. (Leviticus 20:2)
- Non-priests going near the tabernacle when it is being moved. (Numbers 1:51)
- Being a false prophet. (Deuteronomy 13:5, Deuteronomy 18:20, Zechariah 13:2-3)
 Parents and Children.
- Striking your parents (Exodus 21:15).
- Cursing your parents (Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9).
- Being a stubborn and rebellious son. And being a profligate and a drunkard. (stoning) (Quite a few of us might have a problem with this one)(Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
 Violent and legal crimes
- Murder. However if a slave is beaten to death the owner is “punished” — not necessarily killed. If the slave survives the beating then there is no punishment. This is part of a wide range of slavery laws in the Old and New Testament. (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12, Numbers 35:16-21)
- Kidnapping and selling a man. This is really a law against making an Israelite a slave against his will, as other laws happily allow the "stealing of men" to make slaves. (Exodus 21:16).
- Perjury (in certain cases) (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).
- Deuteronomy 19:20 explicitly identifies that the purpose of this is deterrence. "The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing (malicious and false testimony by one man against another) be done among you." Presumably all the other death penalties are assumed to be for deterrence as well.
- Ignoring the verdict of a judge – (or a priest!) (Deuteronomy 17:8-13).
- Not penning up a known dangerous bull, if the bull subsequently kills a man or a woman. Both the animal and the reckless owner of the dangerous bull are to be put to death. (Exodus 21:29)
 Things that don’t go anywhere else.
- Living in a city that failed to surrender to the Israelites. (Kill all the men, make the women and children slaves.) (Deuteronomy 20:12-14)
 Possible grounds for execution.
The following carry the punishment of being "cut off from his people". Some people seem to feel that this is the same as the death penalty, although the ancient Israelites may simply have interpreted it as exile.
- A male who is not circumcised. (Genesis 17:14)
- Eating leavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Exodus 12:15)
- Manufacturing anointing oil. (Exodus 30:33
- Engaging in ritual animal sacrifices other than at the temple. (Leviticus 17:1-9)
- Sexual activity with a woman who is menstruating: (Leviticus 20:18)
- Consuming blood: This would presumably include eating rare meat and black pudding. Also see above. (Leviticus 17:10).
- Eating peace offerings while ritually unclean: (Leviticus 7:20)
- Waiting too long before consuming sacrifices: (Leviticus 19:5-8)
- Going to the temple in an unclean state: (Numbers 19:13)
 See also
- List of actions prohibited by the Bible
- Examples of God personally killing people
- Ten Commandments
- ↑ BBC News: Islam and the apostasy debate
- ↑ http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr.htm
- ↑ http://www.theologyonline.com/DEATH.HTML
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Because the animal obviously has a choice in it.
- ↑ For an exception, see Genesis 19:32-36 regarding Lot.
- ↑ This is really some kind of "Exterminatus" instruction. The Bible is less specific about individual apostasy within the community. This is also reflected in the Qu'ran, although the Sharia does have a stated law to follow in the event of an individual's apostasy that leads to either imprisonment until conversion, or the death penalty.